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desertion of Persia was the beginning of the end. Isfahan
was now suffering terribly from famine, human flesh was
being eaten, and the city was full of the dying and the
unburied dead. At length the Shah decided to surrender.
Clad in deep mourning, he proclaimed to his subjects his
intention to abdicate, and on the following day signed a
capitulation, by the terms of which he resigned the crown
to the victor.
Proceeding to Farrahabad, he was kept waiting by
the ungenerous Afghan, to whom, on being at length
received, he said, " Son, since the great Sovereign of the
Universe does not will that I should reign any longer,
and the moment has come which He has appointed for
thy ascending the throne of Persia, I resign the empire to
thee. May thy reign be prosperous ! " He then placed
the royal plume in the turban of the victor, with the
words, " Reign in peace ! " Mahmud, who had remained
silent, at length deigned to reply, as follows : " Such is
the instability of human grandeur. God disposes of
empires as He pleases : He takes them from one to give
to another ; but I promise to consider you as my father,
and to undertake nothing without your advice." On
the following day the Afghan victor entered Isfahan in
triumph and received the homage of the fallen Husayn
and his nobles.
The Downfall of the Dynasty.—Thus ignominiously
fell the splendid Safavi dynasty. Its founder Ismail was
a great man, and Shah Abbas a still greater ; but it is
important to note that in no instance did the dynasty
embark on a policy of conquest. On its western frontiers
its utmost ambition was to recover Azerbaijan and other
Persian provinces from the Turks, and no attempt was
made to invade Turkey. In the operations against the
Uzbegs, too, there was apparently never any idea of
permanently occupying Central Asia, but only of protect-
ing Khorasan from raids and of restoring the ancient
boundaries of Iran. Further south, Kandahar was origin-
ally received as a gift, and here alone can Persian policy
be classed as " forward." To put the matter in another
way, Constantinople was never threatened by a Safavi